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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Application of Permeable Pavements in Highways and Urban Roads 


Under current provision of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the amended National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) all communities with populations of 10,000 or more, which includes nearly all jurisdictions in the United States, are required to regulate and control the discharge of urban stormwater into receiving water bodies. The CWA and related regulatory compliances and societal demands for clean water have exerted a tremendous amount of pressure on stormwater runoff dischargers throughout the United States to develop innovative stormwater treatment and management strategies.

A more environmentally beneficial and cost-effective approach to capturing, treating, and slowing down water runoff generated by road surfaces is the use of a full depth permeable pavement shoulder design. Under this proposed design, most if not all runoff will be retained within the shoulder and there would not be a need for additional treatment. The use of permeable pavement shoulders in highly urbanized areas is particularly beneficial since finding sufficient land area to implement other solutions (such as infiltration or detention basins) is difficult.

This policy brief summarizes findings from the research project on successful application of permeable pavement design and performance with special emphasis on stormwater management, water quality benefits, and identification of knowledge and data gaps. 

View the NCST Project Webpage

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